Medical Malpractice Case Goes to Supreme Court
In its upcoming 2008-2009 term, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to make a decision on a case that may make it more difficult for victims of medical malpractice to win claims against pharmaceutical companies.
The case, Wyeth v. Levine, centers on the claim that Diana Levine had to have her hand and forearm amputated because she developed gangrene after receiving an IV injection of Phenergan, a Wyeth-produced medication used to treat nausea. Injecting medications directly into an artery via an IV increases the potency of the drug while also allowing it to work faster than a traditional injection.
Phenergan is an FDA-approved medication. While the label on this medication does allow for and warn against injecting it directly in IVs (and specifically warns that gangrene may result from such a practice), Levine filed a claim regarding problems with the medication's label and won her medical malpractice suit in a Vermont court.
Appeals Bring the Case to the Supreme Court
Following Levine's initial win, attorneys representing Wyeth appealed to the Vermont State Court, which upheld the first jury's decision and Levine's win.
However, Wyeth's attorneys have filed another appeal to bring this case to the Supreme Court. In this second appeal, the corporate lawyers claim that the FDA approval of the medication and its label means that individuals can't file lawsuits in state courts regarding supposed issues with the drug's labeling. In other words, the central point of controversy is whether a federal regulation supersedes state law.
Currently, Wyeth v. Levine is scheduled to be presented to the Supreme Court November 3, 2008.
Support for Each Side
Given the controversial nature of this case, it's no surprise that both sides have found strong bases of support for their respective arguments. While Wyeth has found support from the Bush administration, which backs the strength of federal regulation over state law, Levine has found support from 47 state governments.
(Source: Medical News Today)
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